The Redflex scandal in Chicago isn’t going away, any time soon. Politicians who may or may not be in bed with the camera vendor in other cities and states may claim that Chicago’s corruption doesn’t apply elsewhere.
Anyone using this excuse is either lying, ignorant or both.
Let’s take the entire state of Arizona as an example. More than 10 municipalities, such as Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tucson, Chandler, Prescott Valley, Surprise, etc still use a combination of speed or red light cameras. Despite the fact that photo tickets sent by mail are not legally binding in Arizona, millions of dollars in fines are still collected.
10% of that money goes into a fund ironically called “clean elections,” which provides public funding to political campaigns, like members of the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives. These folks, not coincidentally, are responsible for allowing photo radar and red light cameras to litter the roads and scam Arizona motorists.
What’s also NOT a coincidence is that 80% of candidates for Arizona Legislature use “clean” election money to fund their campaigns. If you connect the dots, that means that Redflex and American Traffic Solutions fund their operation and basically own them. If a bill (currently HB 2579) to ban them passes, most of that clean election money will instantly vanish. The political gravy train would stop dead in its tracks and there would be quite a few state senators and reps scrambling to find a way to fund re-election in 2014.
Those are the hard facts and they’re undeniable. Chicago-style corruption with backdoor payola is still likely to be going on, but the scheme in Arizona is right there in plain sight.
Despite the fact that two private companies with their high dollar lobbyists have taken ownership over Arizona legislature, bills to ban the system have failed by one vote in 2011 and 2012 after massive pressure by activists who won’t stop until they rid their state of these thieves.
Redflex and American Traffic Solutions (ATS) operate in several other states, but none of them have a system set up that allows for legislators to be bought and traded like old baseball cards. Arizona takes the cake in that department.
2013 brings Arizona legislators yet another chance to send themselves to rehab to kick that nasty “free money from lobbyists” habit.
HB 2579 goes to a committee hearing on Thursday February 21st in the state House of Representatives. How the committee members vote will say a lot about who they work for.
Chicago may have a trademark on their own style of corruption, but in some ways Arizona has done them one better.